By Jim Stoppani & Joe Wuebben Flex
No one’s pulling the wool over your eyes. You know that to put on quality size there are no real quick fixes or shortcuts. You must train, eat and supplement wisely—not just for a period of months, but years.
But there are also times when you want to look bigger right now. The reason and the occasion may be different for every guy—maybe you’re meeting up with an old flame and want to show her what she’s been missing, or maybe you’re taking photos at the beach to post on Facebook. Whatever the reason, the following nine tricks can help you look 5–10 pounds bigger… instantly.
1. CARB UP
The easiest and most effective way to put on a few pounds quickly is to carb load. The lower your typical carb intake, the more impressive the results will be. Those who routinely eat less than one gram of carbs per pound of bodyweight will see the best results from this.
WHY IT WORKS: When you consume carbohydrates, they get stored in your muscles as glycogen — a massive amount of glucose molecules attached to each other. Glycogen pulls large amounts of water into the muscles, filling them up like water balloons.
DO THIS: A day or two before you want to look your biggest, eat about 4 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight, or more. For the first 4–6 hours of the day, you can eat simple carbs like sugar, fat-free candies and white bread. Later in the day, try to focus on slower-digesting complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, whole-grain bread and pasta, and oatmeal. This will help to prevent the carbs from turning into bodyfat. Carb loading in this manner works best if you first carb deplete for three days prior by eating less than 1⁄2 g of carbs per pound of bodyweight daily, then bump up the carbs to 4 g per pound for two days.
2. GET WET
There’s a good chance you’re dehydrated, or at least not maximally hydrated. One study in athletes reported that less than 15% of them were well hydrated.
WHY IT WORKS: Adequate water consumption has a pretty simple effect on the muscles: it makes them fuller and bigger. If you’re not well hydrated, your muscles will likely look flat and it will appear as though you’ve lost size when all you’re really short on is liquids, not muscle.
DO THIS: Start guzzling water ASAP. Be sure that you’re getting in a minimum of one gallon of water a day, and even up to two gallons, to ensure that your muscles are at their fullest.
3. CHOOSE YOUR CREATINE WISELY
We’re not telling you anything new when we say that creatine pulls large amounts of water into the muscles to increase their size in a hurry. But there’s one problem if you grab a container of creatine monohydrate: time. Creatine monohydrate works fine, but it can take weeks to produce the impressive size gains you’re hoping for because creatine won’t maximize muscle cell volumization until its levels are maximized within the muscle cells. With creatine monohydrate, this can take a week and often longer, even if you go through a loading phase. Instead of monohydrate, go with a fast-acting form of creatine like creatine hydrochloride or Kre-Alkalyn.
WHY IT WORKS: These forms will increase muscle cell volume almost instantly for quicker size gains.
DO THIS: Go with 3–5 g of either creatine hydrochloride or Kre-Alkalyn both before and after workouts.
4. GO WITH GLUTAMINE
The popular supplement L-glutamine may not have the immediate effect on muscle growth that creatine and carb loading do, but it’s still a critical ingredient to include in your mass-gaining stack.
WHY IT WORKS: Glutamine is stored in high amounts in muscles and, much as creatine does, it pulls water into the muscle cells. Research also shows that glutamine helps to convert more glucose into glycogen so that more glycogen can be stored in your muscles, which pulls in more water for even bigger gains in size.
DO THIS: After workouts, add 10 g of L-glutamine to your postworkout protein shake and carbs.
5. GO WITH EVEN MORE GLUTAMINE
Even if you’re already taking L-glutamine after workouts, there’s a different form of the amino that can help you look bigger through a different mechanism: L-alanyl-L-glutamine.
WHY IT WORKS: Research shows that this form of glutamine can help you hold more water in your body. And as we said in #2, the more water your muscles hold, the fuller they become and the bigger you look– almost instantly.
DO THIS: Take 5–10 g of L-alanyl- L-glutamine (Sustamine) about 30 minutes before workouts to stay better hydrated, get a bigger pump and keep your muscles fuller.
6. TAKE TAURINE
This is one of the most popular amino acids among mainstream consumers, but not because of its potential to help add mass. Taurine is the highlighted ingredient in drinks like Red Bull (the Latin word taurus means bull or ox), where it’s touted as providing long-lasting energy. But whereas the boost in energy you feel from taurine may be minimal, its ability to help you put on size is anything but negligible.
WHY IT WORKS: Taurine is another amino acid that gets stored in muscle cells and pulls more water into them to blow up the muscles even bigger, especially when coupled with glutamine and creatine. Plus, taurine boosts muscle strength and endurance for more intense workouts to get you growing more in the long run.
DO THIS: Take 2–3 g of taurine with your preworkout and postworkout shakes for optimal muscle filling.
7. POP POTASSIUM
Athletes typically think of potassium (one of the key electrolytes in sports drinks like Gatorade) as a replenishing nutrient, not one that produces any noticeable bodily improvements. It’s time to change that way of thinking, as potassium can certainly help you get bigger in quick fashion.
WHY IT WORKS: Potassium is stored within muscle cells, where it work to enhance cell volumization—yes, it too will help pull water into your muscles. The effect is more pronounced if your potassium levels are low. If you eat a typical bodybuilding diet and limit your fruit intake, the chances are good that potassium supplementation will work well for you.
DO THIS: Take about 500– 1,000 milligrams of potassium as potassium aspartate, potassium gluconate or potassium citrate two or three times per day with food.
8. ADD SOME GLYCEROL
Glycerol is known primarily for forming the “backbone” of molecules of triglycerides, the primary fats in our diet. But for the bodybuilder looking for every last ounce of mass, it can do even more.
WHY IT WORKS: Glycerol has strong osmotic properties, meaning that it attracts and binds large amounts of fluids, such as water. By attracting more fluid in the blood vessels and the muscles, glycerol enhances the volume of the muscles and the blood vessels, helping you look bigger and fuller. It can also help to prevent dehydration and help to control your body temperature when you exercise in the heat. Research shows that glycerol works best to fill up muscles when taken with fast-digesting carbs, a lot of water and creatine
DO THIS: Take 30–40 g of glycerol along with 10–15 g of fast-digesting carbs, such as dextrose or Vitargo, 3–5 g of creatine and 48–72 ounces of water. If you have no stomach problems with that amount of glycerol, you can increase your dose to 60–80 g along with 20–30 g of carbs and the same amount of creatine and water for maximal volumization.
9. BOOST WITH N.O.
Nitric oxide boosters typically provide arginine, which gets readily converted in the body to NO. NO boosters also provide a host of other ingredients, such as Pycnogenol or ginseng, that catalyze the conversion of arginine into NO, as well as ingredients that reduce the breakdown of NO, such as horny goat weed (Epimedium).
WHY IT WORKS: The point of increasing NO levels is to relax the blood vessels that feed the muscles. Relaxed blood vessels are wider in diameter, which means more blood flows through them to the muscles, increasing their volume. With agents such as glycogen, creatine, glutamine, taurine, potassium and glycerol stocked up in the muscles (assuming you’re following the aforementioned tips), this greater delivery of water will be quickly pulled into the muscles for maximal swelling. Greater blood flow will also deliver more glucose to the muscles to create more muscle glycogen.
DO THIS: Follow dosing instructions on the label and take your NO booster both in the morning and about 30–60 minutes before training.